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Students say 'I do' to a career in marriage and family therapy

The master's program trains students for a career in helping couples, children and their families

Mar. 11, DeHaven, ASU mastery prog master studies in Family Therapy program.jpg

"The program trains students who are interested in a behavioral health career focused on marriage and family therapy." Illustration published on Monday, March 11, 2019.

By inspiring students to make a lasting impact on society through their careers, ASU’s master’s program in marriage and family therapy equips students for a career in helping families.

The advanced studies in marriage and family therapy master's degree is an accelerated applied program that provides expert training for students interested in a behavioral health career as clinicians that focus on marriage and family therapy. 

The program accepts just under 25 applicants every fall semester and allows students to complete the curriculum in a span of 15 months rather than a traditionally paced program which takes three to four years to complete.

Co-director of MAS-MFT Mary Doyle said the program is the only marriage and family therapy program offered at a state university in Arizona. 

“Our faculty are independently-licensed Arizona marriage and family therapists and bring decades of experience from a variety of clinical settings to the classrooms,” Doyle said. 

MAS-MFT is part of the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and shares the school’s mission to focus on the well-being of children, youth, families and their communities across the lifespan, she said.

According to the program's website, students learn systems-based family therapy models and are placed in a clinical internship program where they work with couples, children and families under supervision.

Doyle said marriage and family therapy work is important and she feels privileged to be involved in training future generations.

“It has been extraordinarily gratifying to see the ripple effect our graduates have in the mental health community as both clinicians and mentors,” she said.

Alexia Colman, a program graduate from 2016,  works as an associate clinical therapist at the Arizona Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic

She said the first semester of the program focuses on teaching students systematic framework and other theories used to promote positive change in the lives of clients. 

Students also learn the importance of ethics and the legal requirements one must follow as a therapist, Colman said.

Courtney Brenner also graduated from ASU’s MAS-MFT program in 2016 and currently works as an associate clinical therapist at the Arizona Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, where she also completed her internship. 

Brenner said the program gave her the confidence she needed to be successful in her career.

“I've really just loved being able to see small moments that really make a difference in couples or families,” Brenner said.

The rate of employment for graduates within the first year is over 80 percent and an average of approximately 90 percent of students pass the national licensing exam on the first attempt, according to the program’s website.

Colman said MAS-MFT created a very supportive and welcoming learning environment that has led to a very rewarding career. 

“I'm able to see and learn to be very compassionate for people of all different walks of life, and I think that's a very good skill to learn and apply to my own personal life or to my work experiences,” Colman said. 

Karissa Greving, co-director of MAS-MFT, said she enjoys observing students at the different stages of development throughout the program's length. 

“One of my favorite aspects of the program is when the students start their clinical internship," Greving said. "It is incredible to observe and be part of the rich class discussion because this is when the clinical students are applying their knowledge from the classroom setting to the therapy room.”

Since the program only accepts 22-24 applicants per cohort, Doyle said students are able to form close bonds with one another as they share a unique educational experience. 

“It is a privilege and honor to train clinical students that are making an impact on the lives of individuals, couples, children and families,” Greving said.

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